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Understanding and Supporting Self-Harm Recovery

Self-harm : Training Module

Introduction: Self-harm

Self-harm, a complex and often misunderstood issue, affects a significant number of people across all age groups, genders, and backgrounds. As a crucial public health concern, it is vital to address self-harm with sensitivity, empathy, and understanding. This course offers an in-depth exploration of the various factors that contribute to self-harm, including psychological, social, and cultural aspects, enabling participants to gain a comprehensive understanding of the issue.

This stand-alone course, developed to build upon the successful Scotland’s Mental Health First Aid (SMHFA) program, is designed to equip participants with the knowledge, tools, and techniques necessary to identify, understand, and support individuals who engage in self-harm behaviours. Throughout this course, you will learn how to recognise the signs and symptoms of self-harm, respond effectively to individuals in distress, and provide appropriate support to encourage recovery.

What is: Self-harm?

Self-harm, also known as self-injury or self-mutilation, refers to the intentional act of causing physical harm or injury to one’s own body without the intent to commit suicide. People who self-harm often use it as a coping mechanism to deal with emotional distress, overwhelming feelings, or psychological pain. Common methods of self-harm include cutting, scratching, burning, hitting, or biting oneself.

Self-harm is often a sign of underlying mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, or borderline personality disorder, and individuals who engage in self-harm may need professional support to address the root causes of this behaviour. It is essential to approach the topic with sensitivity and understanding, as those who self-harm are often experiencing significant emotional turmoil and may feel ashamed or stigmatised.

The Facts & Figures: About Self-harm

  • In 2019, the Scottish Government published a report on the mental health of children and young people, which revealed that self-harm rates had increased over time. The report showed that 14.8% of 15-year-old girls and 4.7% of 15-year-old boys reported self-harming in the previous 12 months.
  • A study by the Mental Health Foundation (2018) found that around one in six (16.3%) young people in Scotland aged 16-24 had self-harmed at some point in their lives.
  • The same study revealed that more than a quarter (26.1%) of young women aged 16-24 had self-harmed, compared to 6.8% of young men in the same age group.
  • Data from NHS Scotland indicated that the number of hospital admissions due to self-harm in 2017/2018 was around 5,700. However, it is important to note that many cases of self-harm may not result in hospitalisation and might go unreported.

The Problem: Common misconceptions about Self-harm



One common misconception is that individuals who engage in self-harm are merely seeking attention or sympathy from others. This harmful stereotype can prevent people from taking the issue seriously and offering the necessary support.

Manipulative behaviour

Some people may view self-harm as a manipulative tactic used to control or influence others. This perspective can lead to a lack of empathy and understanding, further isolating those who self-harm

Personal weakness

A negative attitude often encountered is that self-harm is a sign of personal weakness, emotional instability, or an inability to cope with life's challenges. This perception can result in blame, shame, or stigmatisation of those who self-harm, making it more difficult for them to seek help


Another common attitude is that self-harm is a self-inflicted problem, and therefore, individuals who self-harm should be responsible for resolving their issues on their own. This view can hinder the provision of support and resources for those in need

Overreacting or exaggerating

Some people may believe that individuals who self-harm are overreacting or exaggerating their emotional pain. This dismissive attitude can minimise the seriousness of self-harm and create barriers to accessing appropriate help and resources

Dangerous or contagious

There can be a misconception that self-harm is contagious, or that those who engage in self-harm are dangerous to others. This can lead to social isolation and discrimination, which can further exacerbate the emotional distress experienced by individuals who self-harm

Negative & damaging attitudes towards Self-harm are common: There's something you can do for yourself, your friends, your family and your colleagues...

Self-harm: Why should you undertake this training?

As a stand-alone course, the Self-harm module provides essential skills and knowledge that can be applied in various settings, including schools, workplaces, and communities. By participating in this transformative learning experience, you will not only be investing in your own personal and professional growth, but also contributing to a broader societal effort to aid individuals who engage in self-harming behaviours.


Increased understanding

The course provides a comprehensive understanding of self-harm, including its types, causes, risk factors, and prevalence. This knowledge can help individuals better comprehend the complexities surrounding self-harm.

Enhanced empathy

By learning about self-harm, participants develop greater empathy and understanding towards those who engage in self-harm behaviours, promoting a more supportive environment.

Early detection

The course teaches participants how to recognise the warning signs and symptoms of self-harm, enabling them to identify individuals in need of support at an early stage.

Effective communication

The module helps develop active listening and empathetic communication skills, which are essential when supporting someone experiencing self-harm.

Appropriate intervention

The course equips participants with various intervention techniques, empowering them to provide timely and effective support to individuals who self-harm.

Access to resources

Participants learn about the available resources and professional services for individuals affected by self-harm, ensuring they can provide well-informed guidance and assistance.

Support for recovery

By understanding the importance of recovery and support systems, participants can help those affected by self-harm work towards healing and improved mental well-being.

Personal growth

Engaging with the "Self-Harm" module can lead to personal growth and self-awareness, as participants reflect on their own attitudes, biases, and communication skills.

Community impact

Armed with the knowledge and skills gained from the course, participants can contribute to creating a more understanding and supportive society, reducing the stigma surrounding self-harm and promoting mental health awareness.

The Good news: There is a training module which will enhance your understanding, and foster empathy and support for those experiencing mental health challenges

Three Hour Module: Self-harm

By completing the “Self-Harm” module, participants can make a meaningful impact on the lives of those affected by self-harm and contribute to a more compassionate and informed community. Designed to empower participants with essential knowledge, empathy, and practical skills, this course is a crucial resource for anyone looking to make a meaningful impact on the lives of those affected by self-harm. Whether you are a concerned friend, family member, educator, healthcare professional, or simply an empathetic individual, this module provides the tools needed to identify, understand, and support those who engage in self-harm behaviours.

Embark on a transformative learning journey as you delve into key topics such as recognising the signs and symptoms of self-harm, communicating effectively with individuals in distress, and employing intervention strategies to offer timely assistance. Additionally, you will become familiar with the available resources and professional services that can aid individuals who engage in self-harm behaviours. By exploring the complexities of self-harm and gaining valuable insights into available resources and support systems, you can contribute to creating a more understanding and compassionate society.

What does the “Self-harm” Module Cover?


Understanding Self-Harm

This area provides an overview of self-harm, its types, prevalence, and underlying causes. It helps participants gain a comprehensive understanding of the issue and recognize the complexities involved.

Identifying Signs and Symptoms

In this section, participants learn to recognize the warning signs and symptoms of self-harm, as well as assess the risk factors associated with it. This knowledge enables early detection and intervention for individuals in need of support.

Effective Communication

This key area focuses on developing active listening and empathetic communication skills. Participants learn how to engage with individuals experiencing self-harm in a sensitive and supportive manner, fostering a safe space for open dialogue.

Intervention Strategies

Here, participants are introduced to various intervention techniques for supporting those who self-harm. This includes understanding how to approach individuals in distress, provide appropriate assistance, and encourage professional help when necessary.

Recovery and Support

This section explores the importance of recovery and support systems for individuals affected by self-harm. Participants learn about available resources, services, and coping strategies that can aid in the healing process.

Challenging Stigma and Stereotypes

Participants are encouraged to challenge and re-evaluate their own beliefs, biases, and assumptions, promoting a more empathetic and understanding approach to supporting those who self-harm.

How does the "Self-harm" module work?


The module takes 3 Hours,  providing a focussed and comprehensive learning experience.

Small Group Sizes

Classes, of 8-16, are kept small to facilitate personalised attention, encourage active participation, and foster a supportive learning environment.

Interactive Learning

The course features a mix of presentations, group discussions, case studies, videos, and role-playing exercises to ensure a practical, hands-on learning experience.


Instructors maintain a safe and confidential space for participants to share their experiences and ask questions without judgment.

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Why Train with Green Ribbons?

Unraveling the Threads of Mental Well-being

Green Ribbons is dedicated to delivering high-quality Mental Health First Aid training in Scotland, empowering individuals to recognise mental health challenges, provide support, and foster a culture of empathy and understanding. By tying together knowledge, empathy, and resilience our accessible mental health training promotes understanding, reduces stigma, and enables individuals, businesses and communities to prioritise mental well-being. Everyone benefits from Mental Health Awareness Training

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